Updated: Sunday, 8th December 2019 @ 5:52am

Does The Sun's Page 3 exploit or empower women? Manchester's verdict

Does The Sun's Page 3 exploit or empower women? Manchester's verdict

| By Tom Nightingale

The Sun's mischevious revelation this morning that it will continue publishing topless images has sparked anger among campaigners, who were – just hours ago – celebrating a victory for No More Page 3.

The last two days has seen intense debate from all corners of the media as national outlets reported that the 44-year-old feature had been dropped.

Yesterday many were heralding the move as long overdue in the battle against the objectification and exploitation against women, with others calling it a curtailing of freedom of expression.

Lucy-Anne Holmes, who founded the campaign group No More Page 3 in 2012, told the press yesterday that it was ‘a step in the right direction’ but criticised the continuing appearance of scantily-clad women.

She told BBC Newsnight: “The Sun hasn't suddenly decided that women say, think and do interesting and incredible things – it's still basically saying women are here for decoration.”

Ms Holmes’ comments celebrating the victory came alongside government figures hailing the decision as a success for women’s rights.

Education Secretary and Women and Equalities Minister Nicky Morgan praised the decision yesterday as ‘a small but significant step towards improving media portrayal of women and girls’.

The success for campaigners was short lived, with today’s edition of the paper featuring a trail on the front page reading, ‘We’ve had a mammary lapse’.

Former topless model Nicola McLean argued in favour of the continuation of Page Three, unknowingly predicting that the demand for the images would prompt the paper’s decision to continue to publish the controversial page.

“I don't think it’s outdated,” she told ITV yesterday. “The girls still clearly enjoy what they are doing; people still want to see it."

MM took to the streets to find out the public’s views on the issue.

Does the inclusion of pictures in page three of The Sun exploit women?

Yes

No

38%

62%

 

Dave Jacobs, 34, of Cheadle Hulme, believes that the opportunity to appear topless in media should not be taken away from women.

“I don’t think it was exploitation, I think it was something which was a vital opportunity for some women,” he said.

“It’s definitely important that it remains an option, as for some women these days it’s the only way they’ve ever earned a living, whether you see that as right or wrong.”

27-year-old Melanie Thorpe, a fitness instructor from Stockport, agreed. “I think it can be empowering for women,” she said.

“You see men with their tops off in magazines all the time, and so to focus either positively or negatively on one gender appearing semi-naked is in itself gender discrimination.

“I say fair enough to women who want to do it.”

32-year-old Kevin Colter argued that Page Three is a lesser evil than a great deal other material available to the public.

“I do think it’s exploitation, but I also think top-shelf magazines and that sort of thing leave even less to the imagination and probably exploit females far more than Page Three,” he said.

“Yet they don’t seem to receive anywhere near as much exposure and criticism. I think it’s the fact it was in a newspaper which has angered people.”


LESSER EVIL: Kevin Colter thinks it's the fact it's in a newspaper that angers people

44-year-old Helen Boyle from Chorlton disagreed strongly, putting across her view that Page Three should have been banned long ago.

“I can’t believe it’s been allowed to go on for so long to be honest. It’s exploiting and objectifying of attractive young women, it’s as simple as that.

“I think it’s terrible that national newspapers carry photos designed to arouse men.”

John Thomas, 36, insisted it had no place in news despite acknowledging that it is the choice of the women involved to get their kit off.

“Of course women should have the right to choose whether they take some of their clothes off, but the main issue I always had with it is that it just had no place in news reporting.

“I can’t understand why the fact that a glamour model has had cosmetic surgery is of any interest to anyone, if I’m completely honest.”

This view was shared by 28-year-old recruiter Scott Smith, who believes there are other places to exhibit Page Three material.

“I think it’s a very outdated thing, and for people who want those sort of fixes there are other ways of getting it these days.

“It shouldn’t be in a mainstream newspaper. It’s a choice made by the women and if that’s their choice it’s fine, but that’s what top-shelf magazines are for.”


'THAT'S WHAT TOP SHELF MAGAZINES ARE FOR': Keep the bare breasts out of newspapers, says 28-year-old Scott Smith

However, post-grad student George Battley, 29, does not understand what all the fuss is about.

“To be frank I’m not sure a pair of breasts was the most offensive thing about The Sun as a news publication.

“If you want that sort of thing you can get it anywhere now, and though a national newspaper probably wasn’t the right place for it, if you didn’t want to see it you just flicked past the page.”

Jennifer Batchell thinks that the removal of topless women from Page Three is long overdue.

“It’s unbelievable that Page Three has ever been considered acceptable for a national newspaper,” she said.

“It just sent a message that a woman being attractive to look at is news-worthy and that her looks can be exploited for profit by the media.”

Financial advisor Paul Hockinson, 32, acknowledged that the inclusion of Page Three is sexist, but doesn’t believe it exploits women.

“Even Rupert Murdoch himself said it was outdated, and it’s always been a bit chauvinistic,” he said.

“That said, in the majority of cases the women aren’t forced into it. They do it for the money and it should be their decision.”


GET THEIR KIT OFF: 18-year-old Daniella doesn't see the big deal

Daniella Wright, an 18-year-old student thinks the issue has been blown of out proportion.

“I think if the women themselves are happy to do it then it shouldn’t really matter,” said Ms Wright.

“It’s a much bigger thing for women to take their tops off than it is for men – I don’t think they should be prevented from doing it.”

Image courtesy of Studio 212, via YouTube, with thanks